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As others have noted Pakenham marshals the material with ease and writes with a flowing style. Sadly his carelessness on minor points destroys more general confidence in his accuracy, for example in Chapter 1 he Evers to ' Spanish bullion ships bringing crates of bullion from the tropical jungles of Chile and Mexico'. There are no jungles tropical or otherwise in Chile. In Bolivia or Peru but not Chile. In Chapter 5 he relates Gordon's disillusionment with the Khedive prompted by the ghastly fate of Ismael Pasha Sadyk who was shipped up the Nile nailed up without food or water referring to this as being 'sacked' in the original oriental sense. This explanation of the origin of the term could be correct but is so unusual it requires validation. Perhaps he deserved a better editor.